MES 321K • Politics of Court Literature
5:00 PM-6:30 PM
This is a seminar that is open to undergrad and graduate students with a minimum equivalent of three years of Arabic. The goals are (1) to survey a variety of court prose (al-Jahiz), advice to courtiers (al-Sabi), and heroic panegyric (Abu Tammam, Buhturi, Mutanabbi) (2) to familiarize students with medieval literary theory and modern interdisciplinary techniques of analysis, and (3) to give individuals extensive practice reading Arabic and holding discussions in Arabic. Students will study the literature within the context of social and artistic discourses. Moreover, there will be an emphasis on the oral performance: Verse in Arab society was not only read aloud, it was memorized for recitation as part of a tradition of performance in literary salons. In this respect, we will examine Arabic oral performances in the context of Homeric epic and Skaldic poetry. Students will gain an understanding of literary works from an "ethnopoetic" perspective, not as "words on the page," but as "cultural practice" that both reflects and shapes society. Graduate students will fulfill added requirements, including additional readings, a paper proposal and a term paper.
Four Essays 60% Writing Assignments 20% Discussion 20%
Hava, J. G. Al-Faraid, Arabic-English Dictionary